Paramount-led consortium with Star Media and RCE Capital applies for digital bank licence

Paramount-led consortium with Star Media and RCE Capital applies for digital bank licence
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KUALA LUMPUR (June 30): A consortium comprising Paramount Corp Bhd, Star Media Group Bhd, RCE Capital Bhd, Prosper Palm Oil Mill Sdn Bhd and a technology partner has submitted an application to Bank Negara Malaysia for a digital banking licence.

Paramount said that as the lead applicant it submitted the consortium’s application to the Central Bank today, pursuant to the Licensing Framework For Digital Banks And Application Procedures For New Licences Under The Financial Services Act 2013 issued by Bank Negara.

“The key objective of the application is to leverage on the vision, strength and experience of the consortium partners to build a digital bank that promotes financial inclusivity and empowerment to uplift Malaysians for a better future, particularly the underserved and unserved communities that are facing financial hardships.

"The application is also in line with Paramount’s five-year (2020-2024) strategic plan of identifying new sources of earnings, particularly those in the digital space, after the divestment of the Group’s education business and for long-term sustainability.

"A definitive agreement that sets out the obligations of the consortium partners will be entered into in due course after the submission of the application,” it added.

Bank Negara Malaysia, in its guideline, expects to issue up to five digital banking licences in the first quarter of 2022. The deadline for the application is June 30 (today).

Paramount, which had expressed interest in the licence previously, has acquired a stake in peer-to-peer lending platform Fundtaztic to make its foray into the digital finance space.

Paramount CEO Jeffrey Chew, in an interview with The Edge published in May, said Fundtaztic’s four-year track record as a regulated digital platform operator would be able to strengthen Paramount’s application for the licence when the group eventually decides to submit it.

Paramount shares closed unchanged at 75.5 sen today, giving the group a market capitalisation of RM467.49 million.

Star Media's share price rose half a sen or 1.35% to close at 37.5 sen, valuing the group at RM272.32 million. Consumer finance company RCE Capital's shares, meanwhile, slid 2 sen or 0.69% to settle at RM2.86 apiece, giving the company a market capitalisation of RM1.1 billion.

Tan Choe Choe